CSS/Web Standards JavaScript/Ajax jQuery Open Source Web

Appcelerator Titanium – The Future of Open Souce RIA

Yesterday, I received an email from Appcelerator, informing me of a new product of theirs called Titanium. Appcelerator Titanium is an open source RIA platform for developer desktop web apps, similar to the Adobe AIR platform, in that it uses standard, common web languages such as html, css, and javascript. That is what caught my eye, as I’ve read a few books on flex and messed around a bit, but I already know the ins and outs of html/css/javascript. Thats my everyday toolkit for building websites and user interfaces. I ventured onto their website, and watched a few screencasts and then downloaded the demos, which included a twitter and youtube demo.

After checking out the demos sourcecode, I was pretty damn impressed. I thought to myself, “What’s next? How do I start? “. I found the SDK, but just the word SDK can be a little daunting for a web developer, I like to think of it as more of a WDK or Web Development Kit. So I downloaded it, installed it, and followed a screencast from their website to generate my first app. It took about 20 min from start to finish, and Voila! I had a sample app running from an installer. Amazing!

My past experience with Ruby on Rails also helped, as the setup of the app is very similar to that of a ruby on rails project. The terminal commands were easy, and the ability to create installers for OSX, Windows, and Linux were kickass! The documentation was also excellent for such an early release, I only ran into one bug on windows, but I think it had to do with Chrome support for my code, so it could have been a self-inflicted bug and not a Titanium bug.

One of the most desirable things about Titanium is that it has the jQuery library built-in, AWESOME! So I decided to dedicate 2 hrs to messing around in Titanium to see just how far I could get. Well, in 2 hrs I built a little desktop app that allows you to play 6 videos through a custom flash player that are streamed from the web. I basically re-used code from another project that utilized flash, jQuery, and html/css to see if it would work and how fast I could get something up and running. Its not anything I would release to the world, but it really opened my eyes up to how fast I could get something done and the possibilities that Titanium have opened for me.

I’m ready to sell my books on Flex, remove Flex builder from my desktop and go all out on Titanium. What does Flex give me that Titanium doesn’t, and if there is something – then Im sure the guys at Appcelerator will be adding soon enough, as this is just a Preview Release.

So if you haven’t yet checked out Appcelerator Titanium, I highly encourage you to do so.

Thank you Appcelerator!

Also, today someone posted great article on The similarities/differences of Appcelerator Titanium and Adobe AIR

Magento Open Source Web

Helpful Magento Tutorials from the Web

Magento Tutorials

Im compiling a list of the best tutorials from the web for Magento.

Magento Official Documentation:
Magento User Guide
Designers Guide
Knowledge Base
Webinar Archive
Magento Forums

If after searching through all of these resources on the Magento Site and you still can find what you are looking for, then check out some of the tutorials below. The best thing about Magento is the community, people will find out how to do something and then share it with everyone else, and thats what makes the software better.





Magento Open Source Web

Magento: Getting Table Rates to work with v1.1.6

Getting Table Rates to work with v1.1.6 was trivial. Magento has a great tool built-in for uploading a spread-sheet that contains your table rates. I tried this about 3-4 times before realizing that there must be a bug after seeing the words “Sorry, no quotes are available for this order at this time.” displayed on the website where the shipping methods are usually located. I did some research on the magento forums and found that some other users had similar issues.

The solution was to export the .csv document from magento to your desktop, then open in a text editor (NOT EXCEL), then make you adjustments, then re-upload. Voila, it works.

Here is a sample of what my .csv file looked like:
“Country”,”Region/State”,”Zip/Postal Code”,”# of Items (and above)”,”Shipping Price”

At the time of writing this post, v1.1.8 has just been released and one of the bug fixes looks like a table shipping rates fix. I haven’t tried it yet, but wouldnt be surprised if this was fixed now. Good Job Magento!

Magento Open Source PHP Web

Magento: Custom Category Images Listing Block Tutorial

Recently, I just finished coding out a website for a client in Magento. You can view the site at, it was a full switch from some old legacy asp shopping cart to Magento. Im really happy with the way things turned out and the client is too, Magento just has so many wonderful features built-in.

One feature that I found wasn’t built in was a way to display each sub-category with an image, and its name on a landing page. Magento has a nice feature which allows you to assign an image to a category, but doesnt give you a way to make that show up in a listing somewhere.

I setup 6 main categories, with each having multiple sub-categories and I wanted to have a way to show all those sub-categories to the user on a nice page that was pleasing to the eye. Here is an example: Payot Paris by Category.

To achieve this layout, I created a block called sub_navigation.html and placed it in the following directory: app/design/frontend/3graces/default/template/catalog/navigaton/sub_navigation.html

<div id="categories">
<div class="col_full">

<div class="listing" >
<?php $_maincategorylisting=$this->getCurrentCategory()?>
<?php $_categories=$this->getCurrentChildCategories()?>

<?php if($_categories->count()):?>
           <? foreach ($_categories as $_category):?>

                        <? if($_category->getIsActive()):

           $layer = Mage::getSingleton('catalog/layer');

			$catName = $this->getCurrentCategory()->getName();


			<div class="category-box">
				<div class="category-image-box">
					<a href="<?php echo $this->getCategoryUrl($_category)?>"><img src="/skin/frontend/3graces/default/images/category_image_default.gif"></a>
				<div class="category-name">
					<p><a href="<?php echo $this->getCategoryUrl($_category)?>">
						<?php echo $catName ?></a></p>


			<? if($_imageUrl=$this->getCurrentCategory()->getImageUrl()):?>

         <div class="category-box">
				<div class="category-image-box">
					 <a href="<?php echo $this->getCategoryUrl($_category)?>"><img src="<?php echo $_imageUrl?>" height="80"></a>
				<div class="category-name">
					<p><a href="<?php echo $this->getCategoryUrl($_category)?>"> <?php echo $_category->getName()?></a></p>


            <?php /* This resets the category back to the original pages category
****     If this is not done, subsequent calls on the same page will use the last category
****    in the foreach loop
*/   ?>
<?php $layer->setCurrentCategory($_maincategorylisting);  ?>

<br clear=all>

If you notice, I placed an if statement in the code that first checks if an image has been set for the category. If one has, it will show it – if there isn’t an image it will show a default image that I have chosen. Here is an example, when only 1 image for a category has been setup, and the rest are the default.

To make the block show up as an option in Magento Admin, you will need to go to CMS > Static Blocks. Once you get there, click Add New Block and fill in the following fields.

Block Title: Sub Category Listing
Identifier: sub_category_listing
Status: Enabled
Content: {{block type=”catalog/navigation” template=”catalog/navigation/sub_category_listing.phtml”}}

Once you have added all those fields, you can click save. Now to enable this static block for a parent category that contains a bunch of sub-categories with images that are set.
Go to: Catalog > Manage Categories

Then click on the parent category to which you wish to add this layout, scroll to the bottom of the first tab “General Information”.

You will see the following fields, just setup as follows:

Display Mode: Static Block Only
CMS Block: Sub Category Listing
Is Anchor: Yes

Now if you go back to your category on the website, you should see your newly setup sub category image listing page. If you arent seeing any images, make sure you setup you default image and placed it in the current directory within your magento install.


Magento Open Source

Magento: How to use the Import/Export Tool

The import/export tool is very useful within Magento. Being that there is limited documentation on the topic, I thought I would add my .02.

Basically you can use the import/export tool to do mass imports of products. It makes it much easier if you would like to add 50 products all at once, you would just create a csv or xml file with the matching fields for the database, add your information and then use the import tool to import the products. You can retrieve a sample csv or xml file, but doing an export.

Doing an export is very easy, and allows you to export all of your products out of your website. You might want to do this, if you are moving your website or need to reinstall or upgrade your website, and need to get the products out.

Its a very useful tool.

Magento Open Source Web

An Introduction to Magento: Open Source Ecommerce

I have been learning Magento for the past few months, for a client’s website that I have been working on. Its a pretty robust Open Source Ecommerce plaform that is built on the Zend PHP Framework. At first, it was rather daunting trying to find my way around the software – its pretty robust and the documentation for creating a theme feels rather incomplete. It’s nothing like WordPress which I would take in a heartbeat, if they had a solid enough Ecommerce plugin, I have been spoiled by the WordPress Theme engine for quite some time now.

To make my way around Magento, I have been finding bits and pieces of information scattered across many websites. To make it easier for others, Im going to try to assemble the basics here for you.

The hardest piece for me to grasp has been the folder structure, you have to bounce between two places to build a theme, here is a rundown.

  • /skin/// – is where design package css and images are
  • /app/design is location of design packages (layouts, templates, translations)
  • /app/design// – theme customizations
  • /app/design///layout – .xml files that define block structure for different cases in website flow
  • /app/design///template – .phtml (html with php tags) templates
  • /app/design///translate – Zend_Db compatible translation files

Common Template Path Hints


Online Resources

Open Source SEO Web

Recommended Reading for Entrepreneurs

Recommended Reading for Entrepreneurs/Startup Junkies

I love reading books and there are so many great books out there for us to learn from. Books are a great way to unwind from the day and learn about the world. When I was younger, I loved to read Travel Books. It started with A Walk in the Woods, by Bill Bryson. From there, I read every book by Bill Bryson, then on to other similar travel books – I learned so much about other cultures.

Recently, I have taken the same path with Startup/Entrepreneurial Books. I also read books about code, but if I read those in bed, I tend to fall asleep rather quickly. So I have been sticking to business related books. I get so excited when I order a new one in Amazon, I cant wait to read it. Over the past few months, I have read 4 great books – but my list is growing. Below is a list of the books I have read and what I wish to read next.

Recently Read

  • The Art of Start by Guy Kawasaki
  • WikiNomics
  • Getting Real by 37signals

Currently Reading

  • Founders at Work by Jessica Livingston
  • Crossing the Chasm


  • Getting Things Done by David Allen
  • Web Analytics: An Hour a Day by Avinash Kaushik
  • Word of Mouth Marketing by Andy Sernovitz
CSS/Web Standards Design Jobs Open Source Web

Top 10 Job Websites for Open Source Web Designers and Developers

If you are a web designer, front end developer and/or an open source web developer looking for a job or freelance work, there are many websites online with job postings targeted to just what you do. Here is the top 10 in no particular order that I have found, used and highly recommend.

Sensational Jobs offers freelance and full-time jobs for web professionals.

Fresh Web Jobs targets web designers and developers that are looking for freelance and/or fulltime opportunities.

From the creators of Basecamp and Backpack, the 37 signals job board is a great place for web designers and open source developers to find jobs.

Creative Hotlist is a great resource for finding creative jobs, they also offer a place for you to host your online portfolio.

Authentic Jobs was created by Cameron Moll, a revolutionary in the CSS/Web Development space. His site is a great place to search/find web design and development positions across the USA.

Think Vitamin is an online publication/resource for web designers, they also have a jobs section for css/web designers looking for work.

Freelance Switch is the ultimate resource for freelancers. They have an extensive freelance job board where you can apply to jobs for $7/month, but its free to post jobs.

Slashdot is a more general web developer/programmer job board, their tagline is “Jobs for Nerds”.

Krop is a site dedicated to listing creative and tech jobs, they have a history of listings for many notable fortune 500 companies such as Facebook, New York Times and Apple to name a few.

Coroflot is similar to Creative Hotlist in that they offer job listings and portfolios, its like a community for creatives.

This list is comprised of the most popular open source web designer and developer job boards, if you see a site that fits into this post and you believe should be added, please let me know.

JobPile aggregates all of the above job sites into one site, allowing you to search all of them in one place. Its a great site!

Open Source Web

Open Source eCommerce Software List

I just wanted to write about some great open source eCommerce software that I have seen on the ‘net. I will be continuing to update this list as I find more.

  • OpenCart is a very nice php open-source eCommerce platform. Check out there site for an online demo. It has many features that a lot of the bigger expensive software platforms have without a price tag.
  • FatFree Cart is a nice barebones shopping cart, if you dont care as much about all the bells and whistles, but would like to get the job done.
  • Magneto is my favorite of these carts, the look and feel is awesome, its a scalable solution, it has great integration with 3rd party apps, and a great community for support

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